Deaths in immigration detention on the increase?

Deaths in immigration detention on the increase?


Written by: Harmit Athwal

This year, two men have died following their detention in immigration removal centres near Heathrow, and another two people have died in hospital shortly after release from detention in 2012 and 2011.

Two deaths of asylum seekers in the first three months of this year is a worrying development. In February 2013, 84-year-old Alois Dvorzac, a Canadian died after being held in Harmondsworth. It was reported that the man had become very distressed before he was taken to hospital and died of a suspected heart attack.[1] And just a few weeks ago, on 30 March, 52-year-old Khalid Shazad died alone on a train back to Manchester just a few hours after being released (as he was deemed unfit for detention). According to the Guardian he had been ‘told he did not have long to live’. He travelled alone from Colnbrook to Euston where he boarded the train on which he died.[2]

Deaths following release from Harmondsworth

A recent report, published in March 2013, from the Independent Monitoring Board (IMB) at Harmondsworth has revealed two further deaths following detention at the centre[3]:

  • A man died in hospital in the early hours of 17 November 2012, having been in hospital for several days. He was placed in intensive care on 16 November and was only at that point released from detention. The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman (PPO) decided not to investigate this death because of ‘insufficient staff resources’. The UKBA’s Professional Standards Unit is now investigating the death.
  • On 6 December 2011 a man died in hospital. The PPO has investigated the death and a draft report made seven recommendations, five of which relate to the procedures that should be followed by UKBA and GEO after a death in custody. (This report has not yet been published.)

The IMB report also reveals that following the deaths of two men who had recently been transferred to Colnbrook removal centre (from Harmondsworth) in July 2011, ten recommendations in relation to healthcare had been made following PPO investigations in to both deaths. However all of these recommendations have yet to be published.[4]

A total of nineteen people have died in immigration detention and at least another five people have died following release from immigration removal centres on health grounds.

Related links

Read an IRR report: Driven to desperate measures 2006-2010 (pdf file, 432kb).

Read an IRR report: Driven to desperate measures 1989-2006 (pdf file, 401kb).

Roll call of deaths of asylum seekers and undocumented migrants, 2005 onward

[1] Eric Allison, ‘Man, 84, dies at immigration detention centre’, Guardian, 19 February 2013. [2] Eric Allison, ‘Asylum seeker death investigated by Home Office amid healthcare concerns’, Guardian, 14 April 2013. [3] Independent Monitoring Board, Harmondsworth Immigration Removal Centre Annual Report 2012, March 2013. Download it here (pdf file, 144kb). [4] A report into the death of Muhammad Shukat has been published and can be downloaded here (pdf file, 140kb). The report in to the death of Brian Dalrymple will not be published until after the inquest into death has been held for which a date has yet to be fixed.

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

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